The Secret Service announced Thursday that it has charged 32 members of an alleged organized crime ring based in Nigeria with counterfeiting American Express cards.

The arrests culminated a five-month investigation by the Secret Service and American Express Co. The probe centered on two American Express employees who allegedly passed data about cardholders to co-conspirators in Nigeria. The Nigerians are accused of using the information to create fake cards.

The ring allegedly transacted purchases and cash advances worth $2 million before being caught. The purported conspiracy included people in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom.

"The defendants in this case learned the hard way that the U.S. Treasury takes credit card fraud seriously," Treasury Under Secretary Raymond W. Kelly said.

- Compiled by Jaret Seiberg

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